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In the postgame interview room under the leftfield grandstand, Sox manager Terry Francona cracked, "I walked out here through the outfield, and I about twisted an ankle where Manny had his divot."
Said Francona earlier about the slugfest, "That was not an instructional video. That was a little rough."
No matter. The Red Sox were still good to the last drop. Boston wore down St. Louis's pitching with its usual parade of tough at bats, regardless of the spot in the lineup. Indeed, the bottom of the order saved the Red Sox from an ugly defeat. With one out in the eighth Jason Varitek (hitting in the eighth spot after replacing catcher Doug Mirabelli) reached on--surprise!--an error when Cardinals shortstop Edgar Renteria muffed a backhand attempt at a grounder. It was the first time in 317 outs in the postseason that St. Louis gave its opponents an extra out, a base runner by way of error.
Ninth-place batter Mark Bellhorn then nearly homered around Pesky's Pole in rightfield, but a wicked strong wind pushed his well-struck drive foul by about 50 feet. As Bellhorn took the next pitch for a ball, Curt Schilling turned to pitching coach Dave Wallace in the dugout and said, "What you have to do is hit it to straightaway rightfield, and it will end up hitting the foul pole."
The words were barely out of his mouth when Bellhorn mashed the next pitch, a fat slider from Julian Tavarez, to rightfield. The wind did push the high fly, though not nearly as severely as the previous foul. The ball boomed off the metal mesh attached to Pesky's Pole, and the Fenway faithful went bonkers at the fairness of it all. The shot made Bellhorn the first second baseman with home runs in three consecutive postseason games.
The homer earned a well-deserved win for Foulke, the last of five Red Sox pitchers and the only one untouched for a run. It was Foulke who, with the bases loaded and the game tied because of Ramirez's clumsiness, retired Scott Rolen on a first-pitch pop-up and Jim Edmonds on a fastball just off the inside corner of the plate for a called strike three.
Early on, Boston looked as if it might run away with Game 1. The Sox jumped on a shaky Woody Williams for four runs within their first seven batters and added three more in the third for a 7-2 lead. Boston starter Tim Wakefield, though, was nearly as ineffective, walking five batters before he left in the fourth with the lead cut to 7-5.
The tone of the game should not have surprised anyone, considering that this matchup brought the highest-scoring teams from each league together for the first time since the 1975 World Series.
GAME 2 at Boston